Friday 29 May 2015

Defining Moments

Young Mum

Pregnancy changes you in many ways, physically, emotionally and spiritually. You go into it with your eyes wide open, I know that is what I did. When it came to it though, I realised that I couldn't ever prepare myself for something I had never done before. It was a guessing game and completely foreign to me. It was a case of listening to my body and rolling with the punches. 
Of course it's now almost 4 years since I welcomed Leo into the world, and those 4 years really have, in every sense of the word. FLOWN BY. We walked around bleary eyed through the first couple of months, found magic in all of the firsts that happened in the blink of an eye, and celebrated the little life we were helping to grow and mold, to teach and love.

These early years have been a mixture of different emotions, and when people describe parenthood as an emotional roller-coaster, they really have hit the nail on the head. Anxiety, laughter, worry, happiness, exhaustion, more laughter and that feeling of doing something completely amazing. That feeling growing when you see your child learning and excelling.

There is one thing that I lost in those first few years, and that was myself. My world was revolving around Leo completely, and quite rightly so, but I was existing as Leo's Mum. It was last year when I decided to start making some life changes that have completely changed my life. My world still revolves around Leo, and I wouldn't change that, not ever. He will always be the very center of my universe. I did need to do something just for me though, something that helped me re-discover 'Laura' again. I knew that somewhere under the title of 'Leo's Mum' that 'Laura' was still in there...Somewhere, but how was I going to coax her out of hiding? 

There were a number of things I wanted to do, I wanted to lose weight, and this was actually my very first point of call. I began watching what I was eating, and the weight started to melt away. I needed to visit the opticians because ever since I was pregnant I had felt that my eyes weren't performing as well as they once had. In fact there were days that everything felt a little hazy, nothing to sinister but it was a noticeable difference to me. I booked myself an appointment at Optical Express, and they completely cleared me. They told me my eye sight was perfect without even a hint of prescription. This of course put a big smile on my face, 

A year later I feel pretty amazing about everything I have achieved this year. I feel like by giving myself time just for me in an evening, time to get out of the house and go to the gym that I have been able to re-connect with myself again. 

Parenthood changes your life forever, and it will always define you, but ultimately you are still you. Never feel guilty for needing some time out. Find a way to work it into your daily or weekly routine. 

A happier parent makes a happier child.

Never feel guilty about doing something just for you. You deserve it.

Thursday 28 May 2015

Fathers Day 2015

Fathers Day

Fathers Day is upon us already next month, on the 21st June 2015 to be precise.

Doesn't time just seem to go by ever faster as you get older? I am sure Mothers Day was only a mere blink ago? With that in mind I thought that it would be great to share my favourite gift ideas for those special men in our lives, our own Dad's, our Granddads and of course, the Dad's who have helped us raise our little people.

Is it me or does it get harder each year to find that perfect Fathers Day Gift? I mean what do you by the man that has everything? I know it doesn't come down to that one day, and we should show those we care about each and every day of the year, but lets face it. It's nice to dedicate one whole day, just like you would a birthday.

Blew Desktop Herb Garden

Luke and I are pretty into our fitness these days, and we enjoy adding herbs for a bit of natural flavour to our meals. So when I saw the Desktop Herb Garden from Bluw, I thought it was a quirky but rather super idea. When I say desktop garden, that's exactly what I mean. You set it up on your desk, be it at home or in the office and there it sits, growing for your lunchtime necessities or even for a cup of herbal tea!

The Bluw Herb Garden retails at 12.99.

Fetch My Keys Key Finder

Is it me or do we all seem to misplace our keys? I for one have lost count of the times that I have tidied them away into the fridge... Left them on the roof of the car after trying to haul one to many bags of shopping into the house in one trip. Then there's my other half.. He is always losing his set. That's exactly where the Fetch My Keys Key Finder from Getting Personal comes in so handy. By simply whistling it sets off a beeper inside the dog shaped key ring.

It causes the dog's nose to flash and through the whistling and the flashing it helps guide you to the round about vicinity of where they are hiding! Great if you have dropped them down the side of the sofa, or you have...Accidentally placed them in the fridge! The Fetch My Keys Key Finder retails at £6.99 and will really make your Dad thankful this Fathers Day!

Man Mug

Many parents get a token gift from their little one before they are old enough to do so for themselves, and I thought that this next gift was a great idea. The Man Mug. It just screams out to be purchased for that Dad in your life who is either a big tea or coffee drinker. Now Leo's Daddy is both of those (although newly converted coffee drinker!) but an avid Green Tea consumer. 

It's a monster of a mug, and absolutely perfect to keep around the work site. As a carpenter this mug has certainly fitted in and makes the perfect 'builders brew'. It boasts a chunky saw-style handle with a built in spirit level (I actually LOVE this!) and even ruler measurements. Not to mention that the handle even has room to store the included pencil. What more could a Dad want!?

The Man mug retails at £11.99 from Getting Personal.

Monin Syrups Flavoured Pack

Now you have the perfect man mug, why not put it with their favourite coffee syrups so that they can enjoy their favourite flavours at home? The Monin Coffee Syrups are the flavourings you find in all of the tastiest Costa Coffee's, so even if you intentionally purchase them for 'him', you know that ultimately you will be helping to share them!

You can pick the miniature gift set up with 5 delicious flavourings:

- Caramel Syrup
- Vanilla Syrup
- Hazelnut Syrup
- Gingerbread Syrup
- Chocolate Cookie Syrup

The gift pack that retails at £6.95 from Tesco even comes with 2 limited edition coffee stencils. Imagine that in the other half's man mug!

Brewdog Beer

While were on the beverage subject, why not treat Dad to some revolutionary beer? BREWDOG Beer to be exact. BREWDOG are on a mission to brew world class craft beer, and I have to admit that we really enjoyed the bottles that we were sent over to try. I am not usually a beer drinker, but they were a real treat. I did have to share them with Luke.. But that was only fair right?

You can view the headlining brews over on their website.

Of course if your other half's or Dad is anything like mine, you may have a adrenaline junkie on your hands in which case look no further than into the blue experience days! They have a great selection of experience days that would make the perfect gift for Fathers Day, from driving days such as Tank and Train driving to Monster Trucks and Segway. If driving isn't what you had in mind what about water sports? pampering or even flying!?

I may have to add an experience day in for Luke this Fathers Day, or maybe even his birthday!

In a day an age where everyone owns a smart phone, we are all looking for ways to keep them protected and looking their best. Luke is usually sporting a cracked screen after yet another unexpected moment where it either falls out of his pocket, or takes a leap of faith.. In fact over Christmas he must have got bored of dropping his iPhone 5, and decided to test out my shiny new 6+! I am sure you can imagine how I felt about my phone casualty so soon after the release! Barbour International have a very stylish range of phone cases available, and with Luke being a motorcycle fan, this is sure to score me some big brownie points! The cases have been crafted using Barbour Internationals very own prints, materials and trims in order to really add a touch of biker cool to your phones protection.

Luxury features of the biker inspired phone case:

- Barbour International iPhone 5S Covers in Dark Blue or Dark Brown Slimline Protective
- Soft microfibre lining for iPhone screen protection
- Deboss Barbour International logo
- Compatible with iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S

Nokia LumiaHaving been nothing but a iPhone user for many years I was intrigued to put the Nokia Lumia 640 through it's paces. Opening up the box I was impressed by the size and impressive colour of the casing. Being a vibrant colour, it certainly let me know that the Lumia had now entered the room. It took me a few minutes to work out what I was doing, merely because it was so new to me. After I had signed in using my Microsoft account I was pretty much up and running. I took the time to install the apps that I use the most, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the likes so that I could get a real feel for the phone.

Once I got used to the interface I found it simple to operate and navigate around. I was particularly impressed by Cortana and just how efficient it (or should I say she!?) was to use, especially in direct comparison with Siri, who I don't tend to optimise on any level. Cortana even helped me personalise my likes and interests into the phone so that it could provide relevant news directly into my feed. Cortana can even call your friends, help you keep track of things that you need to do (my other half needs Cortana in his life for sure!), setting alarms and just being an overall useful assistant.

What I really love on the Lumia is the 8 megapixel camera paired with the LED flash, it's a great combination to get some great snaps. I have actually really enjoyed using the Lumia and this is based primarily on the camera. It has a handy editing function that allows you to crop, frame, add filters and really spruce your creations up.

Nokia Lumia

The Key features of the Lumia 640 are:
5-inch HD display
8MP camera for great photos
4G connectivity for superfast internet browsing

The Lumia 640 can be purchased from Microsoft on Pay As You Go for £109.99 or Sim Free for £129.99. That's a whole lot of phone for the price tag. 

Braun Series 5

Nothing says thank you for all you do than gifting that special man in your life a new electric razor. The Braun Series 5 is a great example of the ultimate gift this Fathers Day. Retailing at £199.99 it's a luxury gift and one that is sure to make your Dad's day. 

The Series 5 is equipped with a unique combination of power and precision for uncompromising performance without sacrificing on skin comfort. While the FlexMotionTec delivers significantly more skin contact in problem areas for efficient shaving with less skin pressure, the PowerDrive supplies 20% more motor power than before, for high speed cutting even on dense hair meaning that this raazor promises a smooth ride from start to finish. 

Braun Series 5

Braun Series 5 Features:

-New FlexMotionTec of braun Series 5 electric shaver 5070cc delivers efficient shaving results with less pressure, minimizing skin irritation.
- Patented UltraActiveLift effectively lifts and cuts problem hairs in fewer strokes. 
- New PowerDrive with 20% more power for high speed cutting even on dense hair. 
- CrossHair blade captures stubborn hairs for outstanding closeness that lasts. 
- New design automatic Clean&Charge station, it cleans, charges and lubricates at the touch of a button--so your shaver feels like new every day.

Amazon currently have the Braun Series 5 available for £113.28 at the point of publishing this guide.

Happy gift hunting everyone!

Tuesday 26 May 2015

46 Months Old

Family scooting

46 months, just under 4 years. It's a long time, so much can change. So much does change. Little man you have come such a long way, learnt so much and dazzled us beyond belief. Whenever you open your mouth to give us that magical insight into your world, I am so proud. Your using your words, getting your point of view across, and boy do you have a lot to say for yourself these days!

As you got down from dinner the other night you announced 'I to full and fat now Mummy'. Catching me completely off guard. Through the laughter I didn't even think to check your plate to make sure you had actually eaten what you were supposed to. You cite your days of the week, and the first time you did it I almost fell of my chair! Your counting, your colours and your vocabulary is just exploding, all at once like the finale of a extraordinary fireworks display. 

Family Scooting

These last few months seem to have seen something click within you, like a new found confidence has blossomed all of a sudden. You are now admittedly a parrot. You copy everything and anything, and hearing your version of Hippopotamus is just the icing on the cake, and not forgetting you coming out with 'be my guest gorgeous' when I asked if I could sit down next to you!

We visited Hatton Country World at the back end of last week, and everyone commented on just how talkative you were, It was so lovely to hear after so many people have told me the complete opposite over the past year and a half. They were right, you really did have a lot to say, and you kept on saying it too! We went over to watch the bird display and the demonstrator told you what a know it all you were, it did make me giggle! If only your speech therapist could see you now eh!

You even got the opportunity to hold an owl, now this really did make your day. I didn't think you would do it, but this alone is yet another example of how you are changing and growing.

Hatton Country World

In fact this month you have come out with all sorts! Here are a few snippets of our ever growing conversations. 

Leo: 'It's not bedtime yet Mummy, it's still morning outside! Look! Look! Morning!'

Leo; 'I not going to bed yet' 
Me: 'Oh yes you are Mr! I don't care if it's still light outside, it's bedtime Mr Moon!'
Leo: Fine! I'm going to eat my tooth!'

We pass someone with Purple hair only for Leo to express himself very loudly...'Her hair is Purple! I hate it! It's weird!'

My all time favourite question... 'Mummy...Where do you wee from! Your bum!?'

Leo 'I hate Josh's white hair! I love my brown hair!'

Family Scooting

Your sudden confidence hasn't gone un-noticed, even nursery have picked up on it! Your development has jumped right up to where it should be, just like I said it would! Way to prove them all wrong little man, I always believed in you and now the rather incredible nursery report shows what I knew all along! I guess that is why I haven't worried about you not wanting to use the toilet for a number two.. You have always waited until bedtime when you know I can't do anything about it! Then last week, completely un-prompted and completely out of the blue, you sat on the toilet and just did it. We were all so proud, and you relished just how positive it all was. Then the next night you did it again, and again! We may have cracked it, but if not then it's just a case of when! 

You are now really looking forward to school, and I cannot believe that it's a mere 12 weeks or so away. Where on earth has the time gone!? This time next month I will have a 4 year old on my hands, and that quite honestly seems ridiculous. You cannot be that old. You just can't! Whether I want to accept it or not though, it's all happening. Your growing up on me and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. You know what though? Even if I could, I wouldn't, every day I get to know you that little bit more, discover something new about you, and we have some amazing times that we can only enjoy together because you are getting older.

The day we spent scooting as a family only highlighted this further. You took the Storm 90 Y Slider out to the park, and took to the new way of propelling yourself forward like a duck to water. You take everything that life throws at you in your stride, you smile and keep moving forward. I love waking up to that look of pure innocence on your face when you wake up early and sneak into my room for snuggles. You lay so quietly next to me, just watching me sleep. Then you want nothing more than to snuggle and enjoy Cookie Crisp in bed!  

Hatton Country World

This time next month I expect that I will still be up in the kitchen, doing my best to bake up your fourth birthday cake. You have put demands in for Mario Kart, and I have already got lot's of ideas! 

For now though we are in complete holiday preparation. We are embarking on our very first family holiday as a 3. We are off to Tunisia next Wedneday (3rd June) for the week. You cannot wait to dig a hole on the beach with me, and of course bury Daddy!

Until next month little man...
Happy Adventures..

Family Scooting

Thursday 14 May 2015

When you believe

Although there are many hand books available for purchase to walk you through the first weeks..Months and early years of your child's life. Nothing can ever really prepare you for all that there is to come. Those books are guidelines, mere text on paper, which is great should you have a text book baby, a text book toddler, a perfectly 'normal' pre-schooler. We all know that it's not that straight cut, babies, toddlers, children, no two are ever alike. They are all individuals weaving their way on their very own path, but they will all get where there supposed to go, in their own good sweet time.

If you have followed my journey with Leo over the past 17 months or so, you will know that we have had a bit of a bumpy ride. After being let down by our health visitor, and having to watch on as Leo was scored way below where he 'should' be on his development time after time, I got to the point where I expected to hear negativity in every direction, everyone seemed to have concerns, but nothing positive to say? Was there something underlying with my beautiful boy? Was I being naive? Should I stick to my guns? Of course I knew that everyone just wanted the best for Leo, just as I did. I happily accepted all the help offered to me and of course to Leo. I attended sensory play, speech therapy, nursery appointments, before the health visitor finally met with Leo again.

That appointment completely blew my mind, I really thought that we were going to get referred to the pediatrician, in fact I wanted to be referred. We could finally get one over all opinion and some answers, maybe some proper support to help Leo should he need it. The health visitor sat with us and decided there and then that Leo was absolutely fine, which in my heart of hearts I had known all along. Of course with that resounding declaration from the health visitor, there were now conflicting opinions rocking the boat, yet again. I had nursery telling me that Leo was severely behind and actually at the development level of a 22-36 month old, and the health visitor was adament that Leo performed exactly where he should be and beyond, actually placing him between the level of 4-5 years old.. 

While concern after concern for his speech was being raised, and the little boy I could see shining brightly on a daily basis wasn't being recognized in the nursery setting but was coming along all the time in my company, I couldn't understand how no one else could see it. How no one could see him learning and absorbing everything around him, a little sponge in this big wide world. I decided a long time ago to throw caution to the wind, to accept every bit of advice that was made available to us, but to trust my instinct. It may sound crazy, but I didn't worry about Leo. I had every faith in him finding his way, finding his voice and his confidence. You can't rush a child, I knew this, how didn't anyone else? So he didn't speak as well as Joe Blogs!? So he was quiet and reserved? Does that mean we have to pin a label on him?

Flash forward to today...

Today was Leo's second parent's evening. I went straight from work, and you know what? I was ready to hear all about the things Leo wasn't doing. I was mentally ready to look at that development sheet and see where Leo was...and where he 'should' be. To hear the worries about Leo starting school in September.. Only... This evening was the most positive feedback I have received from nursery in the history of Leo's time there.

He counts, recites his days of the week (over and over again!), joins in, dresses himself (at school anyway!), Sings NURSERY Rhymes (The boy that never did!), Asks questions, has many friends, talks with peers, initiates games... Not one negative item of feedback. All glowing, all singing all dancing! 

Leo got there. He GOT THERE! 

I was balled over. Knocked for six. Proud! 

So very proud. 

I have always been proud. Every milestone, bump in the road, smile and tear. This is his path, his time and there is no expiration date on learning. I have kept my cool and somehow my hair throughout this entire ordeal. I have watched Leo learn new words, try new experiences and come on all the time. 

Then one day his confidence just exploded. Out of nowhere, that beautiful boy of mine suddenly had the get up and go that had lay in hibernation until he was ready. Now he is un-stoppable, his vocabulary is widening all the time, oh the things we talk about. He may just be the only 3 year old who asks for a Costa Babycino and puts up the perfect argument as to why he NEEDS one. 

I can honestly say that tonight I sit here and write this post with an unbelievable pride, A pride that only comes when the battle is won, or at least when the waters calm and you can see through the storm to the reality of what you believed all along. That existence for me is that Leo was learning in his own good sweet time, and now he is picking up momentum, the cogs were always turning but suddenly the pace is gaining speed. There's a hunger to be filled, a curiosity that is propelling him forward, and I have been a part of it all. I believed in him, and I believed in myself, my instinct as his Mum. 

Guidelines... PAH! Guidelines are exactly that...Guidelines! That line they draw that your child is above or below doesn't exist. Every child is different. They learn when they are good and ready. 

I am so glad that I had the faith in my clever boy, and in myself!

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Shine Bright

Time has run away with me of late, the days and weeks have passed in the blink of an eye and life as I knew it has changed rather dramatically, rather amazingly. In the right here and now I am so excited for the weeks and months ahead, of learning and challenging myself in a field that I am passionate about. 

I have always said that everything happens for a reason, that when one door closes another is just waiting to open. When I was made redundant on the 27th April, I knew that one way or another everything was going to be ok. When I was called upon on first thing on that usual Monday morning I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, it was the usual run of the mill Monday morning. Only this Monday morning I was to be in a meeting with the managing director, and a number of my fellow co-workers. I made my way promptly and no one really knew what it was about, but not for one moment did I think that my time with the company I had spent the last 5 years with was coming to an end. 

It was however coming to an end. We all took our seats and awaited the arrival of the director, I don't think any of us really saw it coming. Within seconds of the director arriving our fate had been sealed. 'Your jobs are at risk of redundancy'....'We will be starting the consultation period...'. In those seconds following the news, I don't recall sadness, shock...anything? In fact I was surprisingly calm, collected even. I guess you never know how you will react until you are staring into the eye of the storm, but ultimately it depends on how YOU want to conduct yourself. I wanted to leave on good terms, and celebrate the 5 years that I had served with the company. 

I smiled as I went back to my desk, made a green tea and made my way to my first consultation meeting. I smiled as I walked in the door, and I made light of the situation in my way of trying to let my line manager and HR manager know that it was just one of those things It's not personal, it's business after all. They read from a script as my fate was further cemented into the hard reality that it was, I kept thinking that I should feel more, say more, but I just felt at ease with everything that was happening. Like it was somehow meant to be, that it was my time do actually do something. 

Only the week before all of this happened I had wrote a post about how I was going to spend those 2 days a week I was going to find myself with after Leo started school. I was going to fill them with blogging, putting 2 whole days into my hobby. I was going to take a look at college courses and see what took my fancy, I had ideas, but no set direction set in my mind. Suddenly that direction seemed cloudy and un-certain, but that was ok. It was time to pick myself up, dust myself off and get right back out there. I figured I had two options, I could sit at home and dwell on it, or I could start making changes right there and then. So that's what I did. 

If one thing has surprised me in the weeks that have followed, it's that this here blog, that has been my best kept secret for well over 3 years, is now no longer secret. It's out in the open to friend, family and everyone I once worked with. The reactions following the un-veiling have surprised me, and I guess surprised them in turn, and you know what? I am pleased that it's known. I have worked hard on my little corner of cyber space, had some bigger than life opportunities and met some fantastic people, it was a part of my life that has been kept under lock and key. It's time I shout it from the roof tops, because I am so proud of everything that is documented here. 

I had absolutely no idea that the twists and turns of the weeks that followed were going to put a big smile on my face. I have now officially left my old job, and I am embarking on a exciting new adventure that came along at that exact moment when one door closed. As that one door shut, another door crept open and set me on a new track, one that I firmly believe I am meant to be on.

Sometimes things have to fall apart before they can fall back together, keep smiling. 

Sunday 3 May 2015

Life Through the Lens

I have always been one to take many photos. I love to capture our everyday lives and capturing it through the camera lens means that, that one moment in time has been captured forever. It's flawless, a time capsule that brings back those feelings that were felt in that one moment. Laughter, love, the emotion that you just cannot re-create. Photographs tell the truth, one facial expression, one simple glance at another, it's a true reflection of the people your looking at through your camera lens. 

One of my most memorable days, was the day Leo entered the world. It's hard to believe that it is now coming up to 4 years ago. Even in the throws of labor it was important to me that we capture the day, from the birth through to that very first meeting, it's a day I will never forget. From being in the birthing pool, to the seconds after Leo hurtled into our lives, to every moment that has followed since. Each photo taken that day caught a different emotion, a once in a lifetime facial expression of becoming first time parents. It was the most magical, scary, emotional, exhilarating, spectacular, tiring and amazing day all rolled into one. Looking into our first born babies eyes, holding him tight and breathing in his newborn baby smell and counting his ten tiny fingers, and his ten tiny toes. You can see the look of uncertainty on my face, the look of pure shock at how quickly everything had progressed, the look of a proud new Mum.

Those photos are the most treasured out of all of the photos I have taken, because they mark the very moment that my little family was born, and cemented together for always. I have always stored my photographs on my laptop, and following the birth of Leo back in 2011, my laptop hard drive decided to fail. Absolutely everything was lost, my holiday photos, even the photographs taken back in the day at school. Thankfully I still had the photographs from Leo's birth on my camera's SD Card, and although I was devastated at losing the rest of my treasured memories, I was comforted in the knowledge that all wasn't lost. That the most important photographs were safe.

It took my hard drive failing for me to realise how important it is to back everything up, and I very quickly invested in an external hard drive. I don't back up as much as I should, but I am relaxed in the knowledge that everything is backed up, so if the inevitable does happen, I can restore my photos, and keep those special memories alive. I had no idea what I was looking for when I began searching for an external hard drive, I didn't know what I would need, the space I required or really have a clue what I needed.

The fist thing I did upon receiving my external hard drive was immediately back everything up. 

I still love flicking through the photos from Leo's day of birth. I remember every moment, I study each facial expression and marvel at just how much we have all grown in every day since. How much we have all learnt, how far we have come.